Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bristol Baby!

And then there were 3 races to go before the Chase field is set...
What’s interesting is that we still don’t have a single chaser assured of a place in the field with only 3 races to go. The top of the points standings keeps getting jostled about. Last week’s points leader (Jimmie Johnson) fell clear to 4th after losing his engine on a fast Michigan track just when it looked like the force (and the win) was with him… Greg Biffle was there to regain the points lead he had earlier in the season as he held off Brad Keselowski for the win. By the way, Bad Brad continues to look like the real deal as the Chase approaches. Too bad he and JJ appear to be friends. A Brad / JJ rivalry might really be something and somebody’s got to challenge the 48 team that otherwise looks poised to run away with it's 6th championship…

While the top of the points standings seems to keep getting rearranged each week the drivers who are still in the race for the 12th and final seat at the Chase table seem to be stuck with no one stepping up to claim the prize.

Last week’s analysis of drivers with the best chance to make the Chase pointed out that for the second week in a row Kyle Busch should have had the best finish based on historical statistics. Although Kyle had his struggles finishing in 13th place he actually was slightly better than his 13.8 place average finish at Michigan. He picked up 31 points and maintained 14th place overall in the points standings.
Just like Kyle, Ryan Newman entered and left Michigan without changing his position in the Chase remaining in 13th place overall with a Top 10 finish coming in 8th. Ryan did stretch his lead over Kyle by 15 points to 680 vs. 669 for Busch. As it stands right now Newman is in with one win and his point total...

Jeff Gordon had a tough outing in Michigan finishing 28th with in-race and engine problems ending up with a sore finger from pointing it at everyone else as if it wasn’t his problem… Jeff, man up! The 24 team slipped a place in the standings as Paul Mennard moved up into 15th . Jeff only picked up 16 points Sunday.

Marcos Ambrose, of the five one-win drivers with a shot to make the Chase, had the best finish at Michigan coming in 5th and picking up 39 points. Problem is Marcos remained in 17th place overall in the standings.

Finally Joey Logano remains in 18th place overall after having a dismal day at Michigan where he came in 31st only completing 132 laps of a possible 201 thanks to Juan Montoya. First, around mid-race, Joey and Juan were running side by side when Juan got loose and used the 20 car for his salvation. This move caused Joey to run up and smash into the wall. After another 50 racing laps passed the 20 was out of the garage and back on the track when Juan Pablo found the orange 20 once again forcing it into the wall a second time and again into the garage for heavy repair work. Joey was back out when the checkers flew only to scrape up 13 points. What did Joey do to you, Montoya???

If you think about it, all this talk about points is really fruitless. One of these guys needs to grab another win or Carl Edwards needs to do something he hasn't done since last season and defy Beagle voodoo by swiping a win and getting into the Chase by virtue of one win and more points than these other five drivers.

Who shines at Bristol? I think we all know the answer to that…

In his last 10 Cup starts in Thunder Valley Kyle Busch has 4 wins, 5 Top 5’s, 7 Top 10’s and an average finish of 8.7 but the way he’s been doing this season I’m going to say all bets are off at Bristol. The odds say he ought to win but will he?

Ryan Newman has the second best historical numbers at Bristol in his last 10 starts. Ryan has had 7 top 10 finishes and an average of 11.1 since 2007. In 21 Cup starts at Bristol in Ryan’s career his best finish was a 2nd place way back in 2004. Ryan, you need to get ‘r done!

For the sake of comparison, Carl Edwards’ record at Bristol is very good. Cousin Carl in his last 10 starts has 2 wins, 3 Top 5’s, 5 Top 10’s and an average finish of 11.7. If Carl’s gonna do it, this just might be the place…

I wonder what Junior's thinking... No maybe not...
Poor Jeff Gordon…  He’d be all right if there weren’t any other cars on the track. Okay, enough of that. How’s Jeff done in his last 10 starts at Bristol? How about 3 Top 5’s and an average finish of 13.9? Not too shabby... In his career Jeff has 4 wins on the half mile concrete track but the last one was back in 2002. Did anyone else see Rusty Wallace’s take on Gordon this week? I don’t usually go along with much Rusty has to say but this time he nailed it. He talked about how involved most drivers are with their crews, a whole team working to win. Rusty claims Jeff isn’t that way anymore, kinda like he’s on cruise control while everyone else is thrashing for the win. If true, that says a lot…

Marcos needs to pay close attention to those immortal words spoken by the NFL’s Al Davis… “JUST WIN BABY!” Marcos, you listenin’?  Can you do that? I know it’s a tall order, man, especially at Bristol, but wouldn’t that be cool? In seven Cup starts at Bristol Marcos has a 3rd place finish in 2009 and a 10th place finish in last season’s August race. Couple that with an average finish of 18.14 and the indications are that there’s a chance and I guess that’s all you can ask for right now…

Joey Logano has not performed well in Thunder Valley at all. His best finish in seven Cup starts has been a 13th place in last season’s August race. Joey has an average finish of 24.4… What can I say? Once again, here is a driver who just needs to win and it will make everything else immaterial. Is it in you Joey?

Is there really special power in Beagle voodoo? Will Carl break the spell?

What about Kyle? Can he climb out of his funk?

 Will Ryan make our own famous Cord Rotz proud?

Can Jeff pull off another weather win?

What about Marcos? It looks like he’s finally getting comfortable on America’s ovals. Can he really pump up our Aussie fans?

Logano makes a good dark horse. Will he surprise us all?

Here comes Thunder Valley! Who wants it???

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